Funders often require a grantee to get at least 3 proposals from consultants before the funders will fund a project for the grantee. That approach is meant to help ensure that the grantee selects the best and most cost-effective consultant for the project.
As we know, some grantees already have their favorite consultant, and so they “game” the system, i.e., they keep seeking proposals until they have at least two that don’t match the quality of their favorite consultant’s proposal.
Here’s the conversation that I very recently had, almost word -for-word. I thought it might be amusing to you.
Carter: Authenticity Consulting, may I help you?
Caller: I need a quote for strategic planning.
Carter: Sure, I just have a few quick questions first.
Caller: I just need a quote.
Carter: Well, you’ll get quotes from consultants that are between $500 and $20,000, depending on your situation. I can narrow my quote if I can ask you some questions.
Caller: I really just need a quote.
(Carter’s suspecting she just needs any old quote so her funder gets the required 3 quotes.)
Carter: Have you used a facilitator before?
Caller: Yes, and she worked out quite well.
Carter: Is she giving a quote to you, too, now.
Carter: Does your funder require 3 quotes?
Caller: (laughing) yes, it’s such a pain.
Carter: Then I’m really not interested in giving a quote, just to satisfy your funder.
Caller: Can you just give me a number and we won’t get back to you?
Carter: (smiling to himself, because he’s going to low-ball their favorite facilitator) Sure, $500.
Caller: Thank you! (and she hangs up).
(Carter knows the caller will have to call him back, because she didn’t get a proposal from him.)
A few minutes later, the caller calls him back.
Caller: I guess I need a written proposal from you.
Carter: That would require a lot more information from you.
Caller: Can’t you just send any proposal?
Carter: Sure, but if I make my quote to be $500, that’ll be cheaper than your favorite consultant, and your funder will want to hire me instead.
Caller: (By now she’s getting irate) Then just increase the quote. Look, we really just need one more quote.
Carter: (Playing with her, by now) So what’s in it for me to take the time to do a proposal for a project that I’m not going to get?
Caller: Do you know any other consultants who could give us a quote?
Carter: I wouldn’t do that to any of my colleagues. I’m going to hang up now.
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